The age of resistance
This week I finished Netflix’s Dark Crystal series. The ten episode series is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name. When watching it I didn’t know it was a prequel so I will probably be watching the film soon too. So let’s take a look at the series shall we?
This is going to be a spoiler free review so you little goblins who are yet to see it can go in knowing only the basics of the plot.
What do I think the story was? Thra is a land rich with nature and is filled with loads of different races. The main two that the series focus on are the Skeksis and Gelfling. The Gelfing are a race of (non wrinkly) Yoda like creatures that are spread through out Thra in their different clans. The Skeksis are like fat demon birds, that guard the crystal of truth (which was created during the formation of Thra and acts as it’s beating heart, giving life to all) and rule over Thra in their big ugly pointy castle. When the Skeksis start using the crystal to benefit themselves in slightly unsavoury ways, certain Gelfing piece together what the Skeksis are up to and fight back. Classic good Vs bad.
So let’s get into the positives. Straight out of the gate it becomes apparent that this is a world rich with law and depth. The world they build throughout the series feels vast and real, this is helped by the cast of characters as they came from different clans and have different characteristics. The Gelfing cast consist of the young castle guard, Rian, the wide eyed cave dweller, Deet and the brave princess Brea. Each of these characters discover what’s going on in their own ways and take their own paths, leaving you constantly wondering if they’ll ever meet.
The set up feels like a classic fantasy tale like lord of the rings or game of thrones where there are loads of different stories happening that all link together. However unlike in some other productions, there are few enough that you don’t struggle too much to remember people names or get bogged down by the weight of trying to keep track of all the sub plots. And the main story itself is great, it’s full of betrayal, mystery, violence, humour and wonder. You’re constantly kept guessing as there are so many twists and turns throughout. There is an excellent contrast as well, in that the puppets and fantasy make the programme feel quite light hearted but every now and then there are some truly disgustingly dark moments.
The performances by the voice actors bring each character their personality and are really enjoyable but what really brings the whole thing to life is the puppetry. The artistic talent that has worked on this production can not be understated, it’s incredible. The world that has been created is quite frankly beautiful and each character has a lot of detail to them, these are no Muppets. Instead they set off a sense of nostalgia as they are just as powerful as some of the most remembered characters in cinema history like Yoda, ET or the gremlins.
Now it may seem like I feel this to be the perfect series but don’t get me wrong, there are some flaws too. The main one for me is that the Gelfing have quite stiff faces and struggle to emote anything more than happy or shocked. This does take away a little from the more emotional scenes. And on a whole the puppet aspect of this production is likely to put people off, I admit, it even took me a few episodes to get into it and not find the lack of lip movement to be too jarring. There is also the use of CGI. It is used alongside the puppets every now and then to pick up bits that just couldn’t quite be achieved with puppets alone. And whilst this is great, the difference between the two can sometimes be a bit too obvious and sucks you back out of their world a little bit.
But if you can push past these small issues then you are in for an epic adventure. You’ll be submerged in a world of fantasy that doesn’t rely on orcs, dragons, dwarves or elves to flesh out the rich world of Thra. Instead it is a world like no other. The slow start builds into a dreadfully exciting adventure that has a very consistent feel to it due to the whole show being directed by the same person.
My verdict: Dark Crystal will definitely appeal to a certain niche of people and many won’t bother to watch it. But if you do, the artful storytelling, emotional character building and epic scale of it all will keep you hooked until the very last episode. I would urge everyone to try a visit to Thra, because I loved the experience I had with it. This is an easy watch ten more times for me. I hope that anyone who watches it because of my words would agree. Now make like a Landstrider and go watch.
See ya later